New York level, Dinorwig slate quarry

Link to Welsh translationNew York level, Dinorwig slate quarry

If you’re reading this after scanning the QR codes on the fence, you’re now at New York! That was the name given to this level in the quarry. Please stay on the footpath and do not cross the fence.

On the plateau both sides of the fence, there were several rows of gwaliau (huts with one open side) where skilled slate splitters produced roofing slates by prising the thin layers of rock apart. In 1890 there were 74 gwaliau here, the largest number in the quarry’s Braich department. Many splitters suffered poor health. Sitting on cold seats all day gave many of them haemorrhoids.

Beyond the plateau north west of the path was a huge quarry pit, Sinc Hafod Owen. The pit was infilled during the 1970s with rock excavated for construction of Dinorwig’s underground power station. At the far end of the plateau you can see the pinnacle of dolerite known as Y Ceiliog Mawr.

In 1899 Griffith Owen of Nant Uchaf was seriously injured at New York by a railway wagon loaded with slates. He had not heard it approaching behind him because he was deaf.

Many men from North Wales quarries sailed to New York in search of better pay and working conditions there. Slate-quarry owners in New York and Vermont targeted quarrymen from Llanberis and other slate communities.

Two Llanberis men recruited by a Richard Williams of Granville had free passage to New York, but when they arrived they found he had exaggerated the pay on offer. Quarrymen there contacted the press in 1891 to alert other Llanberis quarrymen to the deception.

Some quarrymen moved to South Wales. They included John G Williams of Llanberis, who worked on New York level. In the lunch hour on his last day here in November 1900, a farewell ceremony was held which included storytelling, singing and presentation of a purse of money. It closed with the quarrymen singing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Wales’ national anthem. Such ceremonies were a tradition in the quarry whenever workers retired or moved away.

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